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Panminerva Medica 2012 June;54(2):105-18


lingua: Inglese

Management of statin-intolerant patient

Arca M., Pigna G., Favoccia C.

Atherosclerosis Unit, Department of Internal Medicine and Allied Medical Specialities, La Sapienza University, Rome, Italy


Large scale clinical trials have undoubtedly demonstrated that statins are effective in reducing cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality in almost all patient populations. Also the short and long-term safety of statin therapy has been well established in the majority of treated patients. Nevertheless, intolerance to statins must be frequently faced in the clinical practice. The most commonly observed adverse effects of statins are muscle symptoms and elevation of hepatic aminotransferase and creatinine kinase (CK) levels. Overall, myalgia (muscle pain with or without plasma CK elevations) and a single abnormally elevated liver function test constitute approximately two-thirds of reported adverse events during statin therapy. These side effects raise concerns in the patients and are likely to reduce patient’s adherence and, consequently, the cardiovascular benefit. Therefore, it is mandatory that clinicians improve knowledge on the clinical aspects of side effects of statins and the ability to manage patients with intolerance to statins. Numerous different approaches to statin-intolerant patients have been suggested, but an evidence-based consensus is difficult to be reached due to the lack of controlled trials. Therefore, it might be useful to review protocols and procedures to control statin intolerance. The first step in managing intolerant patients is to determine whether the adverse events are indeed related to statin therapy. Then, the switching to another statin or lower dosage, the alternate dosing options and the use of non-statin compounds may be practical strategies. However, the cardiovascular benefit of these approaches has not been established, so that their use has to be employed after a careful clinical assessment of each patient.

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